'Fearless Simplicity'

Tibetan Buddhist in town to give talk at Olympian Hall

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Tsoknyi Rinpoche, a renown Tibetan Buddhist teacher and author, will share his insight about "Fearless Simplicity" during a public talk Saturday evening at Olympian Hall. This will be a kickoff event for the new Buddhist Center of Steamboat Springs.

"Tsoknyi Rinpoche teaches in a way people can really get," said Buddhist center director Tim Olmsted. He said Tsoknyi Rinpoche is a young and very prominent teacher who is accessible and light-hearted in his approach.

The talk will last about an hour, followed by a question and answer session, Olmsted said. Although Tsoknyi Rinpoche speaks English, he also will have a Tibetan translator with him to help communicate the essence of things that might best be first said in his native tongue.

Olmsted said he is not sure whether Tsoknyi Rinpoche will talk about Buddhism per se.

"There's no weirdness in it. It will be an evening that is inspiring for people of many traditions." Olmsted said. "It is wonderful for people to meet any one of the real masters of any tradition. I think it might be good for Steamboat Springs. I think everyone will find it very interesting."

This also is an opportunity for Steamboat Springs' new Buddhist Center to show Tsoknyi Rinpoche "what we've got, who we are, and show him our neighborhood," Olmsted said.

A two-day retreat led by Tsoknyi Rinpoche will follow Sunday and Monday at the Buddhist Center. This retreat is for experienced practitioners, who must register for the retreat in advance. Interested students who feel they might qualify are requested to contact the center for more information.

The third youngest son of Olmsted's guru, Tsoknyi Rinpoche is from a family line of great meditation masters, Olmsted said. Because Tsoknyi Rinpoche's father has been Olmsted's main influence, this teaching is reflected in how residents have been practicing and teaching Buddhism in Steamboat. The tradition includes two schools of Buddhism: Nyingma, which is the ancient school of Buddhism that came directly from India, and Kagyu, which is famed for its great meditations, Olmsted said. Resident practitioners place great emphasis on the importance of meditation practices.

Making his Western home in Crestone at the Yeshe Rangsal Retreat Center, Tsoknyi Rinpoche travels and teaches around the world. He is the abbot of Ngeesdon Osel Ling Monastery in the Katmandu Valley, Nepal, and two nunneries in Nepal. He also is the spiritual leader of 55 nunneries and monasteries in Tibet, where travel is sharply restricted by the Chinese government. As Olmsted explained, it would be similar to having an Albert Schweitzer (renown physician, philosopher and humanitarian) school of medicine -- Tsoknyi Rinpoche doesn't have to be there to administer the program, but he is the "spiritual force" that guides it.

"The path is very clearly laid out. He's just the one who can embody the tradition and who they can emulate," Olmsted said of Tsoknyi Rinpoche's students in Tibet. Tsoknyi Rinpoche recently spent three months in Tibet where he received the whole body of work from his previous incarnation, Olmsted said. Tsoknyi Rinpoche's Pundarika Foundation helps support nuns and monks in Nepal and Tibet, among other projects. Most of the requested $15 donation from Saturday's talk will go toward the Pundarika Foundation, with the remainder of it going to support Steamboat's Buddhist Center.

For a flavor of what Tsoknyi Rinpoche might confer Saturday night, one might consider part of a message he published on his Pundarika Foundation Web site. Tsoknyi Rinpoche writes: "In these times of great sorrow and confusion, I ask all my students and friends to further develop their love and compassion impartially. If you can help those directly affected by the situation, please do so. Otherwise, try to influence others caught up in hatred and resentment, to change their attitude to one of understanding and forgiveness."

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